All of us have met or heard of parents who have sacrificed their whole lives to ensure a better life for their children and grandchildren. Maybe you are among that number. There have been periods in human history, such as during two World Wars and the Great Depression, when a whole generation did so. People dedicated their lives to a future they would not see themselves. It’s like the action of a grandfather or grandmother planting a fruit tree for their grandchildren when they don’t expect to eat from that tree themselves.
John the Baptist was that kind of messenger of God. He came to announce something that he wasn’t really part of. He was a forerunner. Once he had seen Jesus on the job, he knew that he must get smaller and smaller to give way to the new future for the world in the person of Jesus, the Saviour of the World.
Jesus admired him for that. He said, ‘There is no greater one than John,’ he affirmed, but he added, ‘yet the least in the reign of God is greater than he is.’ So, John was willing to put his whole life at the service of a newness that he himself would not live to see. That was the essence of his greatness.
John remains an example for us who keep struggling for a peaceful and just society in the future. Let John inspire us to have the courage to keep believing in, hoping in, and working for, that brighter future and better world that God wants for us!
(With some inspiration from Joseph G. Donders)
Brian Gleeson, CP, is a Passionist priest and a member of St Gabriel’s Passionist Community, Endeavour Hills, Victoria.